New Series Coming Up

This Thursday, 2/4, we begin a new series titled Truth of Zero at 9pm. It is about a brilliant but socially inept medical examiner named Mao Matsumoto. Mao is a genius with an IQ of 150, but she is so absorbed in the world of forensic medicine that she has no friends, and no interest in food, fashion, or dating. Her fellow medical examiners and team of detectives must figure out a way to get through to this oddball who is only concerned about her work. The Japanese title for this series is Zero no Shinjitsu.

Also, the second year of Behind the Noren is about to begin! We have been re-airing the first series on Tuesday nights at 9pm, but now that we are in between taiga dramas, Behind the Noren is also airing at 8pm on Tuesday nights.

The first half hour of Behind the Noren 2 will air on Sunday, 2/14, from 9:30-10pm. From the next week on, it’ll air as a full hour on Sunday nights from 9-10pm.

In year 2 of Behind the Noren, a new rival to become the proprietress of the inn appears. When Naoko’s husband Shosuke disappears once again, his mother Shino sends Naoko to Taiwan to bring him back. While she is gone, Shino’s niece Yukiko appears to help out at the inn, and she becomes Naoko’s strongest rival for the position. The Japanese title for this series is Hanayome Noren.

Ja, ne!

 

The New Taiga Drama

Last week, we aired the 50th and final episode of Hana Moyu, which was NHK’s 54th Taiga drama. Many viewers have called or emailed asking for information about the next Taiga drama.

The 55th Taiga drama is titled Sanada Maru. It is about the life of Yukimura Sanada, who is considered one of Japan’s last great commanders of the Sengoku — or warring — period. Yukimura’s actual name was Nobushige, and he was born to an exceptionally intelligent father, Masayuki Sanada, who was himself considered a great military strategist.

The Sengoku period lasted from 1467-1603 and was a time of great political turbulence, social upheaval, and almost constant military battles. Eventually, three warlords emerged as key figures  in unifying Japan and ending the warring period: Oda Nobunaga, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Sanada Yukimura was aligned with Toyotomi, and led the defense of Toyotomi’s stronghold, Osaka Castle, against the much larger forces of Tokugawa. Sanada built a fortress on the periphery of Osaka Castle which came to be known as Sanada Maru. In the Siege of Osaka, the fortress was impenetrable, which helped solidify Sanada’s legendary status. He has been called “a hero who may appear once in a hundred years”.

Sanada Maru begins on Tuesday, February 16, at 8pm.

Ja, ne!

KIKU in HD!

KIKU is available in HD! And…just in time for the Red and White Song Contest! We do not have an HD channel on the Oceanic Time Warner or Hawaiian Telecom cable systems yet, but if you receive KIKU over the air, we are broadcasting in HD on channel 20.2!

Happy New Year!

 

New Year’s specials!

We have a great line-up of programs coming up for New Year’s week.

It all begins with the 66th Annual Kohaku Utagassen, the Red and White Song Contest, on Friday, January 1st. Kohaku takes place in Japan on New Year’s eve, but our tradition at KIKU is to air it on New Year’s night from 5-10pm. We will be doing that again this year, and re-airing it the following day, on Saturday, January 2nd, from 11am-4pm. So if you miss any part of Kohaku on New Year’s night, you can sit back on Saturday to watch what you missed. Or, watch the entire program again.

For the last three years, the white (or boys) team has prevailed. This year, the captain of the white team will be Yoshihiko Inohara, a member of the V6 group. On the red (girls) side, for the second year in a row, the captain will be Haruka Ayase, star of the 2013 taiga drama, Yae no Sakura. You can bet Haruka will be pulling out all the stops to get the red team to win this year.

There are two specials airing the night of Saturday, January 2nd. At 7pm, we have Big Guys With One Dish Tour #2. (We aired Big Guys With One Dish Tour #1 this past September.) The “big guys” are Hidehiko Ishizuka, star of the Fat Detective, and sumo master Furiwake. The two guys play an eating game while exploring the Miura Peninsula in Kanagawa. Whoever wins gets to eat the special foods of the area to their heart’s delight, while the loser must be satisfied with a tiny, tiny morsel. This show is hilarious.

At 8:30pm, we are airing Journey to the Moon, a love story that takes place at a train station. Ryota works at a publishing house and was in Gifu to meet with an author. He misses his train for the return trip home, and notices a blind woman in the waiting area. They strike up a conversation and Ryota eventually learns the woman was there waiting for someone. This is a bittersweet love story filled with symbolism.

On Sunday, January 3rd, there is a movie titled My Home, My Town airing from 8-10pm. This stars handsome Osamu Mukai as Ippo Sakuragi, a young man whose job involves lending support to lonely clients with emotional scars. The irony is that Ippo himself bears scars from when his father walked out on the family 20 years ago. What happens when Ippo’s family is unexpectedly reunited?

From Monday, January 4th, to Thursday, January 7th, we are resting Soko ga Shiritai in order to air special New Year’s programs from 7-8pm.

Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, we will be airing a three-part Madame Butterfly special. The passion of Puccini’s opera is given new life in this TV drama about a young woman named Cho-Cho who struggles to maintain a respectable life following the death of her samurai father. After her supportive stepmother passes away, Cho-Cho is left with no resources, and is forced to become a geisha. Eventually, she meets an American naval officer, whom she marries. And although it would appear the tragedy of her life is over, that is not the case. Madame Butterfly stars the beautiful Aoi Miyazaki as Cho-Cho.

Monday at 8pm, we are airing Justice is Blind. This is a two hour drama based on a true story about a blind attorney who is driven by his desire to help the weak. Clients question Kensuke Okouchi’s ability to represent them effectively because of his handicap, but his intelligence and intuitiveness prove them wrong.

Tuesday, January 5th, the taiga drama Hana Moyu will air from 7-8pm. This will be followed by a 2-1/2 hour Chushingura special. This version of the famous 47 ronin story stars Masakazu Tamura as Kuranosuke Oishi and Tetsuji Tamayama as Takuminokami Asano.

Wednesday night, traditionally our Mystery Theatre night, we are airing The Last Witness. This is a drama about a former prosecutor who left public service to open his own private practice specializing in criminal cases. One day, a businessman asks Sadato Sakata to defend him. The businessman is accused of murdering a woman he was having an affair with. The crime appears open and shut: fingerprints, bloodstains, and security camera footage all point to the businessman as being guilty. But the businessman insists he is innocent, and Sadato’s intuition leads him to believe him and accept the case.

Finally, on Thursday, January 7th, we are airing Risking It All: Orange from 8-10pm. This drama is about the fire department’s Special Rescue Team, the men in orange uniforms. Only three percent of firefighters qualify to join this elite team, and must undergo rigorous training to be accepted in to Orange. The training is so harsh trainees themselves question the purpose and necessity. That is, until they learn how many lives were lost following the Great Hanshin Earthquake because rescue teams were ill-prepared to deal with the disaster. The desire to not repeat past mistakes is what drives Orange.

Here is the complete list of specials, along with original Japanese titles:

Friday, 1/1/16                    5-10pm              66th Annual Kohaku Utagassen

Saturday, 1/2/16              11am-4pm          66th Annual Kohaku Utagassen Retelecast

Saturday, 1/2/16              7-8:30pm           Big Guys With One Dish Tour (Ishi-chan to Furiwake Oyakata no Toriwake Tabi)

Saturday, 1/2/16              8:30-10pm         Journey to the Moon (Tsuki ni Yuku Fune)

Sunday, 1/3/16                 7-8pm                 Hana Moyu, episode #47

Sunday, 1/3/16                 8-10pm               My Home, My Town (Waga ie)

Monday, 1/4/16               12N-2pm             My Home, My Town Retelecast

Monday, 1/4/16               7-8pm                  Madame Butterfly, Pt. 1 (Chou-Chou San)

Monday, 1/4/16               8-10pm                Justice is Blind (Moumoku no Boku ga Bengoshi ni Natta Riyuu)

Tuesday, 1/5/16               12N-2pm             Justice is Blind Retelecast

Tuesday, 1/5/16               7-8pm                  Hana Moyu, episode #48

Tuesday, 1/5/16               8-10:30pm          Chushingura

Wednesday, 1/6/16        12N-2:30pm       Chushingura Retelecast

Wednesday, 1/6/16        7-8pm                  Madame Butterfly, Pt. 2

Wednesday, 1/6/16        8-10pm                The Last Witness (Saigo no Shonin)

Thursday, 1/7/16              12N-2pm           The Last Witness Retelecast

Thursday, 1/7/16              7-8pm                Madame Butterfly, Pt. 3

Thursday, 1/7/16              8-10pm              Risking It All: Orange (Inochigakede Tatakatta Shoboushi no Monogatari)

Friday, 1/8/16                    12N-2pm          Risking It All: Orange Retelecast

We hope you enjoy our New Year’s specials!

Ja, ne!

My neighbor, Horace

I have a great neighbor. His name is Horace and he does things like bring in my trash can so it’s not sitting on the curb all day while I’m away at work. He also makes homemade snacks for my dogs, and shares vegetables from his garden with me. But one of the best things he does is give me feedback about KIKU. He loved The Fat Detective. And Doctors and Doctor X. In fact, he likes practically all of the dramas we air on KIKU.

But his feedback this morning was a little different: “Hey, you gotta get some new shows!”

Although we are airing new shows, like Mother Class, Hanamoyu, Mystery Theatre, Japan’s Local Secrets, and The Emperor’s Chef right now, Horace is right. This is the time of year when we also air a number of reruns. So I thought I should explain to you — as I did to Horace — why.

KIKU airs a whole week of new, special programs each New Year’s week. Our translators, our subtitlors, and our entire staff are busy getting ready for New Year’s week in the month of December. Airing shows in December that have already been translated and subtitled allows us to focus and work on the New Year’s specials and new shows coming in January and February.

And there are a lot of new shows coming in January and February. In addition to the New Year’s specials, there are three new dramas starting in January, and four new dramas starting in February, including the new Taiga drama, Sanada Maru, and the second season of Behind the Noren!

I hope you all are lucky enough to have a kind, generous, and honest neighbor like Horace.

Ja, ne!

 

It’s December!

Can you believe the year is almost over? In three weeks it will be Christmas and one week after that, it will be 2016!

We have our 2016 New Year’s specials in place and are already working on translating and subtitling them. The star of the specials is Kohaku, the annual Red and White Song Contest. This year will be the 66th anniversary of Kohaku! That in itself is amazing.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be telling you more about our New Year’s specials, as well as three new dramas that will begin in January. There is a lot that will be happening in 2016. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what’s to come!

Ja, ne.

 

 

Allegiance

I had an opportunity to attend the grand opening performance of Allegiance on Broadway last Sunday night. This is the musical inspired by the true life experience of George Takei, who also stars in the show. As a child, Takei and his family were relocated to an internment camp following the attack on Pearl Harbor. His memories of that experience form the basis of Allegiance.

My great grandparents, grandparents, and parents lived in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Fortunately, they were not relocated to any internment camp. But I know they experienced some form of doubt about their loyalty in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

And this is what is at the heart of Allegiance: loyalty. The war forced Japanese American people to choose loyalties. And those choices or non-choices tore people and families apart.

If you are traveling to New York, I urge you to see Allegiance. It is such an important story about the Japanese American experience that is relevant to everyone, no matter what your ethnic background.

Ja, ne.

 

 

Tiffcom 2015

I’ve written about Tiffcom before. It’s the Tokyo International Film Festival and content showcase that takes place each October in Tokyo. The content trade show portion lasts three whole days, and consists of a large exhibition area filled with booths manned by stations and producers hoping to sell their programs. It’s an excellent opportunity to meet with producers of programs from all over Japan, all at one location.

For us, it’s a chance to reconnect with producers and stations we have long established relationships with. But it’s equally beneficial to be able to meet new stations and producers we have not done business with before and learn about their products.

I’ve attended Tiffcom about four or five times since its inception 12 years ago, and always come back inspired. Sometimes, I’m inspired by a new genre of programs I learn about. Other times, I’m inspired by the establishment of a new relationship.

This time, I was most inspired by a group of stations from smaller cities in Japan. Each wanted to share programs that showcase the food, sightseeing highlights, and cultural strengths of their home town. It was clear everyone takes pride in their home town. And, interestingly, the stations that seemed to have the most pride and inspired me the most were the stations located in the hard hit Tohoku areas of Iwate, Miyagi, Sendai, and Fukushima. Heartwarming stories are plentiful in areas that have experienced hardship.

We plan to air many new programs in 2016, some of them from these smaller stations. I think once you’ve seen them, you’ll be inspired, too.

Ja, ne!

 

Tennou no Ryoriban – The Emperor’s Chef

We have a new drama starting Sunday, 10/25, at 9pm. The Japanese title is Tennou no Ryoriban, or The Emperor’s Chef. It is based on the true story about Tokuzo Akiyama, who was a master chef in the Ministry of the Imperial Household from 1921 to 1989.

As a young boy (and second son) Tokuzo flitted from one thing to another, unconcerned about his future and unable to make a commitment. It was a source of great frustration for his father. So his father arranged for Tokuzo to marry the daughter of a family that owned a seaweed business. One day while delivering seaweed, the newly married Tokuzo is given a sample of a freshly fried cutlet that he finds so delicious, it overwhelms him. From that point on, Tokuzo has found his future. He is inspired to become a cook of western style food.

Tokuzo trains in Paris and at the young age of 26, he becomes the chef for the Emperor of Japan!

Ja, ne!

 

  

As a young boy growing up in the country

Tokuzo tastes a new food, and this awakens

his awareness and interest in cooking.

Tokuzo goes to Tokyo and Paris

to pursue the culinary arts.

 

Fighting against discrimination and prejudice,

he becomes a chef at the Ritz Hotel in Paris,

the epitome of high society and luxury.

At the young age of 26, he rises to become the Emperor’s Chef in Japan.